The Federal Ministry of Interior has warned Federal Registrars to desist from issuing illegal marriage certificates in the absence of intending couples.
The Director of Citizenship, Business Department, Moremi Soyinka-Onijala, disclosed this on Wednesday in response to speculations that marriage certificates were being obtained from the Federal Registries in the absence of intending couples.
Speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Shuaib Belgore, Mrs Soyinka-Onijala confirmed that it is absolutely compulsory for intending couples to be present before a marriage could be registered or certificates issued.
Citing some provisions of the Marriage Act, she said that section 44 provides that “whoever impersonates any other person in marriage or marries under a false name or description with the intent to deceive the other party to the marriage, shall be liable to imprisonment for five years.
”It is an important requirement for intending couples to be physically present at any Registry (Federal or not) or at any Licensed Public Place of Worship in order to be married under the provisions of the Marriage Act of 1990 Cap 218 LFN as amended.
““Ghost marriages as they are called, are illegal and any marriages so conducted are rendered null and void ab initio.
“Section 42 provides that whoever serves as a marriage officer in a ceremony, knowing that they are not duly qualified to do so, or that any material required by law for the validity of such marriage is not processed shall be liable to imprisonment for five years.”
According to her, the ministry of Interior has trained its registrars to comply with the provisions of the Act in the conduct of statutory marriages and to verify the identity of intending couples by obtaining valid forms of Identity such as national identity card, International passport, etc.
“The identity card in addition to other requirements is uploaded by the applicant with evidence of payment of the requisite fee unto the automated platform of the ministry viz ecitibiz-interior.gov.ng.
“The registrar must be satisfied that all the conditions have been met before the Registrar’s Certificate (Form C) which is an authorization to marry under the Act is issued.
“Therefore, before the day of the marriage the registrar already is in possession of the photographs and all other documents that he needs to identify them with.
“Before they are married, the couples present to the registrar (and also to licensed ministers) an affidavit that they have met all the conditions laid out in section 11 of the Act.
“If any Federal Registrar is found to have violated the Law, he or she shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the Marriage Act and the Public Service Rules.
“The ministry does not condone and has never condoned illegal practices by federal marriage registries.”